Monday, February 19, 2007


Got my contributor copies for Webslinger today, so I imagine it will begin appearing in book stores soon enough. This is a collection of essays about Spider-Man, guest-edited by Law & Order: Criminal Intent guru and comic book legend Gerry Conway.

Order online from Benbella Books or

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Flying Cars

The new story I started on my Lazy Day is tentatively called Flying Cars. It's a near-future espionage thing designed to let me serially explore some of my extrapolative science-fictional ideas. Flying cars, like personal jetpacks, will always signal the future, I think, even when we actually have them (in the same way the years 1984 and 2001 are inextricably linked to the future, even though both now belong to the past). Plus, flying cars are linked to spies and espionage, at least for me.

I built a story engine, and very quickly had ideas for three or four self-contained stories (which means the engine works, I think). I then got sidetracked by The Amelia File, but continued rolling Flying Cars around in my head during idle moments. During one such moment, something slightly disturbing occurred to me: the concepts powering the stories were big -- HUGE, in fact. Quite possibly too big, for what I had conceived of as a series of fairly intimate character-based pieces.

This concern led me to take another look at Ellis and Templesmith's Fell, which I have already analyzed (and enjoyed) to death. (Issue #7 came out the day we went to a Barenaked Ladies concert, and my girlfriend and I read it before the show started, earning many puzzled looks from passers by.)

Fell is a bit deceptive in that at first glance it seems to be about the small, almost the way modern literary fiction tends to be. I think it may actually be a limited omniscient book -- do we ever pull away from Richard Fell and his unique perspective on Snowtown? (Maybe in the beginning of the interrogation issue -- remind me to check that out later.)

Fell is small and intimate, its concerns immediate, but a lot of the ideas themselves are quite big -- in fact, this filtering down of big ideas into tiny, relevant shapes may be an integral part of what makes the book work so well.

I went right to the source and asked Warren about this directly, since he is currently running one of his Mass Interrogation Threads where he answers questions about pretty much anything. I said:


The ideas in Fell always seem to come in their smallest, most intimate forms -- larger socio-economic movements expressed through the old lady who gives guns away from her shop, for instance, or the very Snowtown-specific effects of the military drugs (as opposed to Fell, say, taking on the military or something, which would just feel wrong).

I suppose I'm juxtaposing this with Casanova, where intimate experiences (like a day trip with friends) are turned into something larger (the way, maybe, a song like Norwegian Wood takes a specific personal experience and finds a way to have it open into something more universal).
When constructing Fell, was the idea of keeping things small, intimate, and immediate a formal part of the story engine, or did it just naturally evolve?

Warren replied:

Yeah. Everything, everything has to be focused down to local effect.

Which makes good sense to me, now that I think about it. I think this is just the way in which Flying Cars wants to work itself out, too. (And yes, I'm comfortable doing something Warren Ellis has already done -- he's already done everything anyway.)


I think I need the stories in Flying Cars to open back up again in the end. The character I've come up with is trying to go the other way -- to find the mind-blowing WTF hidden at the center of the safe, bland ST: TNG future she lives in. But the stories themselves -- and her world, I suppose -- resist this. I imagine my character will fail to get the results she wants most of the time, but if there is even just a moment where she glimpses the wondrous possibilities…

Probably needs to roll around in my head a bit more.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

The Amelia File

I've been in the unfamiliar (but happy) position the last few months of having second (and third and forth) issues of comics to write. I've got a fair amount of experience writing first issues, since that's what you do when you're developing original comics properties. Serious thought about second and subsequent issues only begins -- for me, at least -- once two conditions have been met: 1). a great artist is attached, and ready to draw, and 2). a publisher has commited to publishing the thing.

So lately I've been in a place I've been working toward being in for a couple of years -- exploiting the hard premise-building work that went into some of my first issues. As of now, I still have issues #3 and #4 of Pathwalkers to write, issue #3 of Venturesome Motes, and pretty much all of Brilig & the Dreamsea.


I kind of started missing the thrill/cloud of self-delusion that goes into creating a new idea from scratch, and the rush of connecting with a talented artist, and... well, all the stuff I'd been dreaming of getting away from for a bit, basically.

So I did it. One week ago, there was no such thing as The Amelia File, but now it's a full-fledged (partial) script in the hands of a very promising artist. With any luck, it will soon be an irresistable pitch with which we shall bombard comics publishing-type companies.

Now I pray it gets rejected, since I have no time to write it!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Robert Abides

Took a lazy day yesterday, even though I didn't particularly deserve one. I slept in until about 1:30 in the afternoon, then just puttered around and didn't do much of anything, writing-wise or other. (I made a blog entry and sent some emails, but that's about it.)

By about 6:00 P.M. I got an idea for how to finish the script for the second issue of Pathwalkers, and by about 7:00 I'd written it (it was only four pages, but still). I wanted the issue to suggest something really fascinating, like the best issues of Planetary do, but not say so much about the thing that it kills the mystery. But I also didn't want to leave the ending too open-ended.

For the last week or two, my two desires for the issue seemed mutually exclusive. And fatally so, at that. My eventual solution was to leave the conceptual mystery stuff mostly hinted at (but with a small, specific part of the puzzle filled in) and to make the closure and (semi-)cliffhanger elements character-based, instead.

I think it hangs together, but I'm still a bit too close to it to say for certain.

And then, lazily -- lying in bed literally doing nothing and grabbing the notebook and pen only because I didn't even have to sit up to do it -- I started making notes on a brand new project. A couple hours later, I'd nailed down the first page, and loosely plotted the first three issues.

Which means I wrote about as much as I would have if I'd been a good boy and forced myself to write for an hour or three.

Oh yeah, and I got up early today.

Laziness rules!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Matriarch -- finished!

Line art for all three issues of The Matriarch is finished, thanks to the fabulously talented Steven Yarbrough. I think he actually pencilled #2 in less time than it took for me to write it.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Dark Horrors review

Chris Tupper of The Comics Review weighs in on the Dark Horrors anthology right over here.